Background: The reduction in dental caries seen between Irish national surveys of children’s oral health in 1984 and 2002 was accompanied by an increase in the prevalence of enamel fluorosis. To minimise the risk of enamel fluorosis in Irish children, in 2007, the level of fluoride in drinking water was reduced from 0.8-1.0 ppm to 0.6-0.8 ppm fluoride. Recommendations on the use of fluoride toothpastes in young children were issued in 2002. Fluoride and Caring for Children’s Teeth (FACCT) is a collaborative project between the Oral Health Services Research Centre, University College Cork and the Health Service Executive dental service, with funding from the Health Research Board.
Aim: FACCT aims to evaluate the impact and the outcome of the change in community water fluoridation (CWF) policy (2007) on dental caries and enamel fluorosis in Irish schoolchildren, while also considering the change in policy on the use of fluoride toothpastes (2002).
Methods/Design: A cross-sectional study with nested longitudinal study will be conducted in school year (SY) 2013-2014 by trained and calibrated dental examiners in primary schools in counties Dublin, Cork and Kerry for a representative sample of children born either prior to or post policy changes; age 12 (born 2001) and age 5, (born 2008). Five-year-olds will be followed-up when they are 8-year-olds (SY 2016-2017). The main explanatory variable will be fluoridation status of the children (lifetime exposure to CWF yes/no). Information about other explanatory variables will be collected via parent (of 5-, 8- and 12-year-olds) and child completed (8- and 12-year-olds only) questionnaires. The main outcomes will be dental caries (dmf/DMF Index), enamel fluorosis (Dean’s Index) and oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL). Multivariate regression analyses will be used to determine the impact and outcome of the change in CWF policy on oral health outcomes controlling for other explanatory variables.